A wise reprover

Excerpts from our recent church bulletin:

The Wise Reprover (2)

Brian D. Dykstra

 

Proverbs 25:12: “As an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear.”

The reproof of Elihu in the book of Job turned out much better than that in Jeremiah 43:1-7. As you know, Job was a very wealthy man. However, he lost everything—everything!—in one day and soon he was afflicted with terribly painful sores. Job was miserable. He had three friends come to comfort him. These friends claim that all this evil came upon Job because he must have committed some awful sin for which God is justly punishing him. Job denies his friends’ charges. Job says that he is not a sinner. Well, he knows that he has sinned but he certainly is not guilty of the dreadful sins of which his friends are accusing him. He has not done anything, in his judgment, to bring God’s awful wrath upon him.

The conversation between Job and his three friends goes back and forth. Job cannot convince his friends that he is innocent and the friends cannot convince Job that he is guilty. Job even expresses the desire that God would appear before him in some way because he would like to have the opportunity to ask God some questions. Through all of this, Elihu sat silently listening to this conversation. He was the youngest man there and felt the older men should speak first.

The talk among the other four men was over. They had nothing more to say. Elihu could no longer keep silent. Elihu reproves Job because he justified himself rather than God. He then reproves Job’s friends because they continued to condemn Job without having any evidence that he had done the dreadful things of which they accused him.

Elihu’s words in Job 33:12-13 are really the answer to Job’s horrible afflictions and losses. Elihu points out two essential truths. First, God is greater than man. Secondly, God does not give account of any of His matters. This means God can do whatever He pleases because He is great. The Almighty is under no obligation to explain to us why He does what He does. It’s none of our business.

Job and his friends have no protest to make about what Elihu has said. They know Elihu is right. God then appears to Job and speaks to him. Jehovah points out He is almighty, wise and can do whatever He wishes. At the end of the book of Job, it is important to note that God tells Job to offer sacrifices for the sinful speech of his three friends but He requires no sacrifice for what Elihu had said. God must have approved of Elihu’s reproof.

What can we learn about what makes a good reprover from Jeremiah and Elihu? Neither of them were upset because the sin they witnessed was a personal insult to them. They did not give reproof to vent their own personal anger. They did not speak because they felt this would clear their good name or soothe their troubled conscience of the sins they had witnessed. These reprovers saw sin as an affront to God. They wanted these sins to be put away because sin prevents a right understanding of God and a proper walk with the Lord.

Proverbs tells us a reprover must be wise. Jeremiah knew the spiritual condition of the Jews with whom he was dealing. Elihu let the others speak first so he could properly understand the situation. For us, we need to know whom we reprove. Some reproof needs to be strong, while with other friends we can speak gently. We cannot be hasty in our judgment of others but must make sure we have a good understanding of the matter. We must also be wise to know the proper time to give reproof. Some reproof must be given immediately, while sometimes it is better to wait. For a reprover to be as valuable as gold, he must be wise.

God also tells us in this Proverb that the person being reproved must have an obedient ear. The Jews reproved by Jeremiah did not obey reproof. They disobeyed and went forward in their own stubborn, rebellious way to their own destruction. The ears of Job and his three friends were obedient to Elihu. They did not protest nor give an angry response. They responded with submissive silence. This led to sacrifices being offered and forgiveness being granted.

Receiving reproof properly is not what we do by nature. We take offense. Who are you to tell me what to do or tell me I am wrong! Our natural reaction is to become angry and defend ourselves. The old man of sin in each of us does not take it well when we are told we have sinned. This has been my experience for many years almost without exception-JK

An obedient ear to reproof is hard to find. I am thankful as a teacher in a Christian school that when I have had to take a student aside and have a little talk, it usually goes well. Part of that could be the student’s recognition of authority. What I pray is that this is proof of the response to God’s Word by one who is redeemed by God. What we also need as a Christian community of believers is to react properly to reproof when the reprover is our equal or, harder yet, holds a position lower than our own.

The greatest and wisest reprover is our Lord Jesus Christ who died for our sins. When someone gives us reproof based on the Bible, they are really bringing the Word of Christ to us. We also read in John 16 that the Spirit comes to do exactly that!-JK. We have to listen to the minister when he preaches because he brings and applies Christ’s Word to our lives and hearts. In catechism class, you are being taught Christ’s Word. The history of the Old and New Testaments give us instruction in a godly life. Disobedience brings the anger of God, while obedience results in covenant fellowship with Christ. Finally, Christ gives us reproof when we read the Bible, the Word of God. This is the instruction of Paul in II Timothy 3:16-17, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

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Well done good and FAITHFUL servant.

Surely this is what every Christian wants to hear from his or her Lord on the last day. This little article from my church bulletin helps us understand what it means to be a man or woman of faith. We need to nothing spectacular but just serve God in our respective place.

The Wandering Bird (2)

Proverbs 27:8: “As a bird that wandereth from her nest, so is a man that wandereth from his place.”

What happens when we wander from our place? We could leave a place of spiritual safety for one of temptation. Temptation and sin are no less dangerous for us than predators are for birds. Leaving the place of godly instruction leaves us to be instructed by the world and its ideas about right and wrong.

A bird who wanders from her place is foolish. For the young to leave the safety of the nest is to expose herself to all kinds of dangers. For the adult to leave the nest also exposes her young to danger and starvation.

A man who wanders from his place is just as foolish. He is exposed to temptation. The effects upon the family are also great. Without a father and mother in their appointed places giving direction to their children, children wander into ways of sin because of a lack of spiritual direction and sound instruction. What is happening to the children of the world who are raised under the instruction of television? Are their hearts in good shape? Many men in the world are more interested in the good times the world has to offer than being in their places in their homes. Are American families in good shape?

David is an example of what happens when a man wanders from his place. He was the king of God’s people. It was his duty to lead the people in battle against their enemies. His place was also that of being an example of godly living because everyone knew of his attitude toward God.

Yet David wandered from his place. In II Samuel 11, he was a bad example as king. He left his place at the head of the army and stayed in Jerusalem for a time of pleasure and relaxation. He left himself open to temptation. He was also on the roof on his palace at a time when he should not have been. His weak flesh was led into terrible sin which had effects on David for the rest of his life.

David neglected his place as a child of God. A servant told David that Bathsheba was another man’s wife. His duty as a child of God was then to leave her alone. After falling into sin, his place was to confess his sin. He did not confess because he wanted to preserve his reputation in the eyes of the people. In order to preserve his social standing, he finally resorted to murder. His place as king was to protect his subjects, not make them victims of adultery and murder.

On the first day of school this year, I had the 5th graders do a quick writing assignment. I asked them to give me the name of an example of faith. Then they had to give me a few sentences about why this person is such a good example of faithful living.

Their answers gave me some interesting reading. First, it was good to see their knowledge of the Bible. We did not have to have a long discussion about what faithful living means. We did not have to think long and hard in a desperate search for some names we have heard in the Bible. The assignment was handled easily and well.

Some of the names given are very familiar to us. Some of the people mentioned were Moses, Elijah, Noah, parents and ministers.

Parents, this speaks well of your children. Their knowledge of the Bible demonstrates you have taken seriously the baptismal vow to see to it that your children are brought up with God’s Word as the most important part of their lives.

However, this list of examples of faithful living overlooks something very important. The people mentioned earlier did great things. They led God’s people for 40 years in the wilderness. They performed miracles and spoke boldly to ungodly kings and queens. They built an ark in the face of opposition of all the rest of the world. Why do we forget the examples of faith near us? Why weren’t more parents mentioned? Most of your fathers are at work now. Do they get up and go to work every morning because they love their jobs so much or do they go to work in faithful obedience to God’s decree that as heads of their families they are to be diligent and provide for the needs of their families? That is your father’s place.

Now, think about mum. It was not that long ago, even for the 9th graders, when all of you were small bundles of responsibility who could not do anything for yourselves. When mum was tired from a long day of work around the house, do you think she joyously leaped out of bed at four in the morning, for the fourteenth night in a row, to care for her squalling baby? Just for another example, think of all the meals she cooks. How often are her efforts appreciated? What keeps this woman going day after day? The pay? A chance for a promotion? Or is she dedicated to the raising of covenant children and putting her hope in the promises of God’s Word? That is your mother’s place.

What about the examples of faith found in godly friends? I mean, true godly friends, not the ones who encourage you to walk in the ways of the world but the ones who will not encourage you to commit sin, who will warn you about the dreadful effects of iniquity. How easy is it to stand for what is godly even in a Christian school? It takes faith to warn our friends about sin. Yet that is your place.

To live a life of faith, to serve God in your place, does not mean that you have to do something astoundingly great. The bird did not have to be the highest or fastest flier of its species to be in its place. It simply had to stay in the nest. You don’t have to spend a few hundred years building an ark to live in faith. You don’t have to kill a lion with your bare hands to show your faith! To stay in your place does not mean you have to be thrown into a fiery furnace, heal the sick, raise people from the dead, write a twenty-two volume Bible commentary or the twenty-first century version of Reformed Dogmatics. We do not have to do the spectacular in order to serve God faithfully in the place He has given us. We must perform our daily, simple Christian duties in whatever place God has given us.

Brian D. Dykstra

The Word

A light to give direction in life and enlightenment about God and his ways

A hammer to break down hard hearts and opposition to God

A sword to pierce hearts, to excise sin and the superfluous tissues (issues of life)

Pasture to spiritually feed all God’s flock

Water to quench the thirst of those seeking righteousness

Fire to burn away dross and sin in our lives

Are you reading it methodically?

See Bible Reading Plan post. Link

Down or up?

We are not just ageing and becoming decrepit we are progressing to glory!

“For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish*, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.” 2 Corinthians 4:16
“Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.” Psalm 16:9
“And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” Romans 5:5. Death shall not separate us from the love of God.
* I feel these that my strength is sapping away now perhaps because of the toll of these last two operations and all I can do is shuffle along and there is no guarantee of improvement. Well I am approaching 66.

Blessings of Obedience

As Christians show their love to the God of their salvation and his Son, Jesus Christ and the omnipotent Spirit who indwells them by obeying his commands they are promised blessing just as the Old Testament church were:

 

Redemption by blood.

Deuteronomy 28 .

1 And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth:

And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God.

Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field.

Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep.

Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store.

Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out.

The Lord shall cause thine enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten before thy face: they shall come out against thee one way, and flee before thee seven ways.

The Lord shall command the blessing upon thee in thy storehouses, and in all that thou settest thine hand unto; and he shall bless thee in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

The Lord shall establish thee an holy people unto himself, as he hath sworn unto thee, if thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, and walk in his ways.

10 And all people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of the Lord; and they shall be afraid of thee.

11 And the Lord shall make thee plenteous in goods, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy ground, in the land which the Lordsware unto thy fathers to give thee.

12 The Lord shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work of thine hand: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow.

13 And the Lord shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath; if that thou hearken unto the commandments of the Lord thy God, which I command thee this day, to observe and to do them:

Operation Mobilisation

Operation Mobilisation (Ships)

                     

Strengths                                                                     Weaknesses
Multinational and multicultural.                               Interdenominational (LCD)
Emphasis on prayer/Bible study.                               Not Reformed
Evangelism                                                                      False gospel, lay preaching.
World Mission
Faith based (finances)
Leadership

I benefited enormously from my two years on Logos, seeing some wonderful places, learned about the world, met many believers from all over, discussed doctrine, got into trouble, learned to pray, sinned grievously but had prayer answered when I met my wife. I plan to elaborate on the points above in the future.

Living Wisely in a Digital Age

Notes on a speech at Covenant P.R.Church, Ballymena 24th January 2018 by Rev. Nathan Decker, Trinity P.R.C., U.S.A.

Wisdom is the application of knowledge to glorify God.

Living intentionally.

A table contrasting living wisely with how Satan tempts us through digital technology:

How to live wisely How Satan may use this tool
Not addicted (enslaved)

Content viewed: good sites and neutral sites (but avoiding much pointless entertainment)

Addicted. Sites are intentionally addictive by design on our minds (physiologically/psychologically).

Content viewed: wicked sites

Serving others and pointing to Christ. Selfishness-promotion of self
Diligent, daily devotion and weekly worship Distracted from these
Porn is immediately avoided. Helpful book    “The Next Story” by Tim Challies chapter 10 on how to protect your home/children Pornography viewed.
Exercise authority over children/ keep them accountable Spoil them, never call to them to account.

It must be added that just like the printing press in the 16th century, digital technology can be and is used powerfully for the extension of the Kingdom of God in many places especially where access to Scriptures and churches is scarce. Christian websites, Scriptures on line, and live streaming of sermons and sermon archives are a boon to many in restricted countries and where the church has apostatized and there are no true churches.

Link to full message below:

 

Psalm 73

Psalm 73

Sung Psalm 73:21-28

Reading Psalm 73

God is good to us (his people)!

The writer Asaph was a Levitical leader of the singers at the tabernacle in David’s day and later possibly in the temple in Solomon’s time.

It is a Psalm of particular grace (v 1)-God is good to the church, his saved people.

Asaph’s fall would not just have been a trip but one like over a cliff, fatal!

Vv3-12 he bemoans the material prosperity of the wicked

Vv13-16 this is contrasted with his troubles (v 14) I believe is a sense of his sin and God’s chastisement)

V17 entering into God’s presence in the sanctuary corrects his thinking. He sees things from God’s viewpoint, realises his privilege and realises the end of the wicked. Let this mind be in you (Phil.2)

Vv18,19 speaks of the certain doom of the wicked

Vv21,22 he confesses his sin

Vv23,24 underlines the perseverance/preservation of the saints (John 10:28,29), God’s counsel or plan of our earthly circumstances and the glory that awaits us (although it is already part of us-Rom.8:18-30).

For further reading:

available here

Obstacles

 

Yes even Satan is on God’s leash as God’s lapdog and to know my almighty Savior controls even my temptations is a great comfort.

Young Calvinists

A month ago we had a significant windstorm in the Grand Rapids area. Lightning, thunder, heavy rains and an isolated tornado were accompanied by high winds that leveled trees and knocked out power for two days or so.  I commuted to work that Friday morning alright, but when I went use the trails they were blocked with large trees that had fallen during the storm. I was unable to maneuver my bike around them. I tried one direction and couldn’t get through. I went the opposite way and faced the same problem. Finally I biked through Grandville and it ended up taking me longer to get home than I had anticipated.

This little experience is not that much different from our everyday lives. Sometimes God sends us trials and temptations that we find difficult to see our way through and get around. We often wonder why He sends us these…

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God rules

“It should fill us with joy, that infinite wisdom guides the affairs of this world. Many of its events are shrouded in darkness and mystery, and inextricable confusion sometimes seems to reign. Often wickedness prevails, and God seems to have forgotten the creatures that He has made. Our own path through life is dark and devious, beset with difficulties and dangers. How full of consolation is the doctrine that infinite wisdom directs every event, brings order out of confusion, and light out darkness, and, to those who love God, causes all things, whatever be their present aspect and apparent tendency, to work together for good.”

by: J.L. Dagg

Thanks Nil Bansale